Introduction: New Realisms
The October 31, 1962 opening of The New Realists, an exhibition in a temporary Manhattan storefront gallery rented by dealer Sidney Janis at 19 West 57th Street, marks an unlikely turning point in the history of post-world war II art. Against the political-economic backdrop, Pop art sparked a transatlantic debate over the referent of realist aesthetics. The realism of Pop art has been the topic of much critical debate. Parisian artists and critics viewed Warhol’s silkscreened images of suicide, racial oppression, capital punishment and car crashes as a new form of realist art engage, even as they objected to his use of the silkscreen to mechanize painting and incorporate mass media imagery. Pop art, variants and adaptations of which arose in most regions exposed to American mass culture and consumer goods during the 1960s, is widely regarded as the first global art movement.